Giuseppina (her friends call her Pina) was born in 1902 in La Maddalena--a small island off Sardinia's northern tip. Her father’s name was Cicillo, and she had four siblings. Her grandfather had moved to La Maddalena from Sicily in the wake of the revolt of Garibaldi. At 5 years old, after losing her mother, along with with three of the four sisters, she was sent to the female orphanage Satta-Sequi of Ozieri on the main island of Sardinia, where she lived until she was 21. Pina calls the the orphanage il Collegio, where she learned the art of embroidery, a craft she practiced her entire life. Pina has vivid memories of Ozieri... the fountain with the two marble lions that is located just in front of the "Collegio", the Attilio Pintus pastry shop and the "Swiss" café where she used to buy candy.
She married twice, but bore no children of her own. Her second husband, Giuseppe Frau, had 3 children that Nonna Pina raised with great love. In 1946, when her son moved to Montelupo Fiorentino near Florence for work, she moved with him, where she still resides today with one of her daughters, Julia. Her son was tragically lost when trying to save bathers from drowning--a sorrow she still carries with her. Pina worked many years for the Bitossi Ceramics factory in Montelupo Fiorentino. She attributes some of her longevity to eating chocolate.
She is one of tens of thousands of Italians over 100 and still going. Many scientists have sought to identify the key to Italy’s extraordinary longevity, with suggestions ranging from a Mediterranean diet to hormones to a good sex life.